What are the big trends expected for 2017 in e-commerce?

Fernando Maciá

Written by Fernando Maciá

The year 2016 is coming to an end, leaving behind twelve months marked by relevant political, economic and social changes at a global level.

What are the big trends expected for 2017 in e-commerce?
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E-commerce has also undergone intense changes, but possibly not as many as some expected. Several e-commerce trends were predicted to land and consolidate, but only a few have been firmly realized. In this regard, one of the most accurate analyses is the one carried out by The Drum, a British media outlet specializing in digital marketing. That website points out as some predictive fiascos of 2016 within the industry to the implementation of the beacon technology, virtual reality, artificial intelligence-based shopping assistants and social commerce such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. It appears that many of these advances will need a little more time to become fully established.

In addition, The Drum points – quite rightly – to the assimilation of changes by the end consumer as a reason for the non-consolidation of such trends predicted by many for 2016. Brands often overestimate the customer’s real need for certain functionalities.

Taking into account the precedent of 2016, the evolution of the sector in other countries and assessments from different specialized media, at Human Level Communications we have proposed to group together what are (in our opinion) the trends with the greatest potential for consolidation during 2017 in Spain.

m-commerce will continue its unstoppable evolution

The strength of mobile devices is undeniable, the positive evolution of m-commerce (alluding to mobile commerce) seems to be quite solid and a continuation of this trend is expected throughout 2017. It still seems too early to see how m-commerce surpasses e-commerce in terms of turnover or operations (at least in Spain), but the flexibility of being able to research the products we are most interested in and being able to complete a purchase from the sofa at home is something that will help to continue to generalize the purchase from mobile devices.

The big question will be to predict how big the jump will be, but expectations are that it will happen.

Find a niche market and you will succeed

Analyzing the different opinions of the specialized press, we find that one of the trends that will foreseeably crystallize in 2017 will be the success of stores highly specialized in a specific product. High segmentation will give many businesses that opt for online sales a certain ability to compete with large general retail outlets, thanks precisely to their identification as specialists in a certain niche.

In this regard, we believe that the consumer service will play a special role. A personalized, attentive and close advice with a deep knowledge of what is being sold can make the difference and balance the scales in favor of the e-commerce that targets a well-defined niche.

Express deliveries

Logistics is one of the key elements of any good e-commerce service. It is enough to put ourselves in the consumer’s shoes to understand that receiving the product that has already been paid for as soon as possible is essential to encourage online shopping. In fact, this remains one of the areas with the most room for improvement and evolution in e-commerce.

Throughout 2016, there has been an increase in initiatives by many companies with a presence in the online channel to offer same-day delivery through premium-type purchase or registration formulas (Amazon, for example). Other companies have progressively increased their offer of exclusive items with short lead times. And all indications are that in 2017 this type of express delivery will continue to gain traction.

On the other hand, it seems that the delivery of orders using drones on a massive scale is still a long way off. But seeing this type of devices flying over our heads or moving through the streets of Spain while making their daily deliveries may become commonplace in less time than you might think.

Legislation and consumer demands are still far from such a scenario. However, in the UK there are already serious projects to implement robots to automate and speed up deliveries. In fact, ElPais.com recently reported that Just Eat plans to start using small autonomous vehicles to make deliveries in the London area.

Food, increasingly strong in e-commerce

Throughout 2016 there have been signs pointing to a booming role for e-commerce within the food sector. Possibly the most outstanding movement has been the huge expansion of the British firm Just Eat. The company acquired the Spanish company La Nevera Roja at the beginning of the year, as well as other fast food delivery companies such as Hellofood (in Mexico, Brazil and Italy) for more than 100 million euros.

At the end of the year, another food giant, Burger King, also joined e-commerce to manage home deliveries. Will McDonald’s follow in his footsteps throughout 2017?

Improved on/off combination

Concepts such as omnichannel marketing, showrooming or ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) are part of the same reality: the increasing integration between different shopping channels. Many consumers resort to different channels (online and offline) in the purchasing process; starting the search for information on the Internet and going to close the purchase in a physical establishment, or else, feeling the physical qualities of the desired item in store, but finally acquiring it through the network. The combination varies by sector, product type or consumer profile, but the truth is that companies are beginning to understand that they must offer full integration between sales channels so that the consumer can enjoy the purchase regardless of the preferred option.

Presumably, throughout 2017 this trend will be cemented and more businesses will offer a shopping experience where the line between physical and digital is gradually becoming thinner. The advantages of both channels will be combined in order to offer a sales process to the liking of all consumers.

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Fernando Maciá
Fernando Maciá
Founder and CEO of Human Level. Expert SEO consultant with more than 20 years of experience. He has been a professor at numerous universities and business schools, and director of the Master in Professional SEO and SEM and the Advanced SEO Course at KSchool. Author of a dozen books on SEO and digital marketing.

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